-by La Huerita
aise your hand if you actually use your timeshare’s kitchen to cook something other than popping a pizza or some popcorn or a cup of coffee in the microwave.
I like to cook no matter where I am, and through the years I’ve discovered a lot of meals that make everyone’s mouths and tummies very happy and don’t strain my vacation vibes.
I learned how to cook this dish in Mazatlan, where I was staying at a timeshare resort that had a small kitchenette and access to the biggest, juiciest shrimp I had ever seen, provided by a vendor who strolled past the resort every morning crying, “Camarones! Camarones!” It sounded like music and two decades later I can still hear it when the early morning sunshine slants just so and palm trees are rattling somewhere outside and the sharp smell of ocean and seaweed fills my nostrils.
Or when I smell the aroma of Shrimp in Garlic Sauce wafting from my own kitchen. 😉
You can cook it too, anywhere that you have access to big fat fresh shrimp and a stove top!
Sometimes simple recipes are the best, but they are also unforgiving. With only a few ingredients, you have no chance to hide mistakes. So it is with this delicious and classic dish: You must pay attention to both the ingredients and the cooking instructions, or you will end up with tough shrimp and burnt garlic. Not good.
Having said that, there are few better meals on the planet than a quick and simple Camarones al Ajillo, and you will look like a gourmet cook to your admiring family and friends when you serve this. Go ahead and bask in the glow. If you cook this right, you will have earned the praise!
This recipe serves 2 to 3 people, but it is very simple to enlarge it if you need to.
You’re going to LOVE this!
CAMARONES AL AJILLO: SHRIMP IN GARLIC SAUCE
Serves 2- 3
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp hot red pepper flakes (a packet of pepper flakes that came with your pizza will do)
- 12 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- 2 pounds large or jumbo shrimp, peeled, de-veined
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 cup dry sherry (Don’t have sherry handy? An equal measure of dry white wine will do just fine; or if you want a non-alcoholic replacement try an equal measure of apple cider.)
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (2 or 3 Tbsp. of parsley flakes will do in a pinch)
Heat the oil and red pepper flakes in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat just until the oil starts to color but isn’t smoking. Stir in the garlic and cook, shaking the pan, just until the garlic begins to color, about 2 minutes.
Increase the heat to high, add the shrimp, and season them with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir the shrimp until they turn pink all over. (Keep an eye on the garlic. It will get brown, but don’t let it or the pepper flakes burn!If it gets too dark, lower the heat and remove the pan from the heat for a few seconds.)
When the shrimp are pink all over they are done. Immediately remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, placing them in a large bowl. Pour the sherry into the pan containing the oil, garlic and pepper flakes and bring it to a boil. Cook, stirring, until the liquid has been reduced by about half and lightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, and scrape the sauce over the shrimp in the bowl, making sure the garlic bits and pepper flakes are included. Serve immediately.
Serve with rice and a simple garden salad, or provide lots of good bread for dipping in the garlic oil.
A few notes:
1) This dish cooks up quickly so make sure you have all the ingredients ready to go before you actually start cooking. You don’t want to be chopping parsley while your shrimp are turning to leather.
2) Make sure you don’t let either the garlic or the pepper flakes burn. That would make both the oil and shrimp taste bitter.
3) Make sure you use only the best ingredients you can afford. Again, such a simple recipe leaves you nowhere to hide if you screw it up.
4) You can use any size of shrimp you want, as long as it’s 2 pounds worth so the recipe’s proportions stay in sync. If you use smaller shrimp, the cooking time will be less so be mindful of that and watch your shrimp closely so they don’t over cook. As a guide, small – medium sized shrimp will take 3 – 4 minutes, large shrimp will take 5 – 8 minutes and jumbo shrimp or prawns will need 7 – 8 minutes cooking time.
5) If you have access to a beach that allows campfires, this recipe cooks up magnificently over a campfire!
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